Bottled Water: New Year, New Alternatives PT 1

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Take Care of Texas
Water Bottles on Meeting Table

Water, water everywhere—but how do you choose to hydrate? According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Water Health Series – Bottled Water Basics,” Americans spend billions each year on bottled water, making it one of the fastest growing drink choices in the United States.

No matter where you’re from in Texas, bottled water can be beneficial—especially during times of crisis, severe weather, or just exploring the outdoors in some of the state’s more inhospitable environments. However, we can all agree that there are more environmentally conservative means to stay hydrated, as well as to deal with the disposal of common plastic water bottles, in order to better Take Care of Texas.

What is Bottled Water?

View of Austin downtown skyline from river bankThe Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the EPA are both responsible for the safety of our national public drinking water. In Texas, through the Safe Drinking Water Act, TCEQ is delegated authority by EPA to regulate public drinking water (tap water), while the Texas Department of State Health Services regulates the drinking water bottling process consistent with FDA regulations. (Bottled water is considered a food product when it’s stored, and state regulatory agencies must approve bottled water sources.)

Bottled water comes from one of three sources:

  • A regulated municipal water supplier. The bottler may further treat this water to obtain the desired taste. For example, often the bottler will treat water from a municipal supply to remove chlorine, filter it to reduce the amount of minerals present, or both.
  • A standalone well or spring.
  • An approved rainwater collection system.

The bottled water label must name its source. If the bottler has treated the water, the label must also identify the method of treatment.

Reading the Label

In order to understand the quality of bottled water, one must understand how to read the label. This type of information includes the volume of water, related nutritional claims, and any contact information for the bottler. The label may also include the type of bottled water, its source, and the way in which it is treated. For more specific information, you can contact the bottler directly.

Nutrition fact label on flavored water bottleBelow you can find the FDA's classifications for labeling bottled water.

  • Artesian water or artesian well water comes from a well drilled into a confined aquifer in which the water level stands at some height above the top of the aquifer.
  • Groundwater comes from a subsurface saturated zone that is under pressure equal to or greater than atmospheric pressure. Such groundwater must not be under the direct influence of surface water.
  • Mineral water contains no less than 250 milligrams per liter (mg/L) of total dissolved solids (determined by evaporation to dryness and weighing the residue) coming from a source tapped at one or more bore holes or springs, originating from a geologically and physically protected underground water source.
  • Purified water or demineralized water is produced by distillation, deionization, reverse osmosis, or any other suitable process that meets the definition of purified water in the United States Pharmacopeia, 23rd revision, January 1, 1995.
  • Sparkling bottled water contains, after treatment and the possible replacement of carbon dioxide, the same amount of carbon dioxide as when it was taken from the source.
  • Spring water is collected from an underground formation from which water flows naturally to the surface of the earth. Water must be collected at the spring or through a bore hole tapping the underground formation feeding the spring. A natural force must cause the water to flow to the surface and the location of the spring must be identified.
  • Sterile water or sterilized water is water that meets the requirements of the sterility tests in the United States Pharmacopeia, 23rd revision, January 1, 1995.
  • Well water comes from a hole that is bored, drilled, or otherwise constructed in the ground that taps the water of an aquifer.

Bottled water may also contain flavors and/or added nutrients, or be used as an ingredient in beverages, such as diluted juices or flavored bottled waters. However, beverages labeled as containing sparkling water, seltzer water, soda water, tonic water, or club soda aren’t categorized as bottled water under the FDA’s regulations, but instead as soft drinks. The flavor/nutrient-added waters must also meet both bottled water standards and FDA safety requirements, and additives must be clearly identified on the ingredient label.

Don't drop that bottle and stay tuned for the second part of this bottled water blog post!

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